Liverpool's Transfers Revisited

Duncan Castles writes on Bleacher Report about the dismal transfer record of Liverpool FC under Brendan Rodgers' management. Part of the critic is the overly reliance on an analytic model in scouting that selected bad players or rejected good. For example, Castles points out that Liverpool rejected Sadio Mane on the ground that the model said he isn't good enough for Premier League. Mane now plays for Southampton FC and is proving the opposite. Given that Goalimpact predicted Sadio Mane to be good enough a full year and 4 Mio. Euros before Southampton signed him, let's check what Goalimpact tells us on the other transfers made. Here is the full roster. Rodgers' transfers are marked yellow.

Liverpool FC

PlayerGoalimpactPeak GIAgeLast National TeamNo. GamesNo. Minutes
Goalkeeper
Simon Mignolet105.7114.726.8Belgien24122449
Danny Ward74.1131.521.4Wales [U21]9837
Brad Jones85.686.332.712111212
Average88.5110.827.0
Defense
Lloyd Jones79.2112.319.2England [U19]11970
Mamadou Sakho109.1111.924.8Frankreich21518002
Dejan Lovren118.5119.825.4Kroatien22519680
Glen Johnson125.3135.630.3England40936172
Ryan McLaughlin89.9113.220.2Nordirland [U19]302541
Kolo Touré129.7163.233.7Elfenbeinküste50942986
Michael Williams85.2119.119.1Wales [U21]2138
Alberto Moreno108.4119.022.4Spanien [U21]836965
Manquillo96.7117.520.6Spanien [U21]403270
Jon Flanagan112.7125.321.9England [U20]473714
Martin Škrtel105.5113.530.0Slowakei34330267
José Enrique108.7115.328.8Spanien [U21]25821950
Average105.7122.124.7
Midfield
Steven Gerrard130.6170.434.5England75163042
Suso91.0109.021.0Spanien [U21]805177
Coutinho101.0111.322.5Brasilien [U20]1439443
Cameron Brannagan64.9104.118.64344
Joe Allen112.9115.824.8Wales23716932
Lucas Leiva108.7113.927.9Brasilien28221344
Adam Lallana114.4115.926.6England27521777
Emre Can109.2128.120.9Deutschland [U21]1249880
Jordan Henderson122.5126.124.4England26921103
Jordan Rossiter72.1115.117.77537
Raheem Sterling102.0126.620.0England1218475
Lazar Marković117.3137.120.8Serbien1268203
Average103.9122.823.3
Attack
Daniel Sturridge121.3123.025.3England21713254
Fabio Borini94.7100.423.7Italien [U21]1247798
Rickie Lambert103.5132.132.8England26621835
Mario Balotelli106.9110.824.3Italien25916740
Average106.6116.626.5

First thing to note is that about half of the team was signed by him. Apart from Borini, all seem to be good enough to play Premier League, also Coutinho and Manquillo will need some more development.

Some of the players are quite young and expected to improve significantly in the coming seasons. Given their potential, they were not bad signings as such. Even though they are maybe not good enough to qualify for Champions League this season, some are expected to be develop into that level (>120). Due to this fact, one can argue that the prices paid were too high. You'd expect bigger talent or further developed players for that money. Even in England.
Kolo Toure is a very good player, but well beyond his peak. His aging
is going to accelerate soon.

Especially in attack, the signings were not very convincing. We have no information on the factors that lead to the signings, but the two signings from Italy might point to a malfunctioning adjustment for league strength or opposition in general.

Mignolet is for sure a good keeper, but for 10 million Euros you can easily sign better ones. Brad Jones that played against ManU the other day, doesn't live up to Premier League standards.

Optimal XI

Ignoring all tactical considerations (no, this is not a recommendation), just picking by Goalimpact, leads to the following starting XI plus bench.

PlayerGoalimpactPeak GIAgeLast National TeamNo. GamesNo. Minutes
Daniel Sturridge121.3123.025.3England21713254
Steven Gerrard130.6170.434.5England75163042
Simon Mignolet105.7114.726.8Belgien24122449
Dejan Lovren118.5119.825.4Kroatien22519680
Joe Allen112.9115.824.8Wales23716932
Glen Johnson125.3135.630.3England40936172
Adam Lallana114.4115.926.6England27521777
Kolo Touré129.7163.233.7Elfenbeinküste50942986
Jordan Henderson122.5126.124.4England26921103
Jon Flanagan112.7125.321.9England [U20]473714
Lazar Marković117.3137.120.8Serbien1268203
Average119.2131.526.8
Bench
Mamadou Sakho109.1111.924.8Frankreich21518002
Lucas Leiva108.7113.927.9Brasilien28221344
Emre Can109.2128.120.9Deutschland [U21]1249880
José Enrique108.7115.328.8Spanien [U21]25821950
Average108.9117.325.6
15 Player Average
Average116.4127.726.5

This is good enough to end up sixth in Premier League, so currently Liverpool is underperforming. But even if they weren't, the team isn't good enough to reasonably expect to qualify for Champions League. Comparing this to the Champions League game against Basel, only Škrtel, Sterling, Coutinho and Lambert weren't first choice players according to Goalimpact. Still Basel (113.6) even fielded a slightly better team than Liverpool (113.1) in that game. This again underscores the fact that the team doesn't live up to Champions League ambitions.

Conclusion

If the ambition of Liverpool FC is to qualify for Champions League the players bought don't live up to that objective. Whilst only Borini would be outright rejected as a EPL transfer target by Goalimpact, most are more suitable for a team in the upper midfield of the league table than for a team with Champions League ambitions. In fact, of all new players only Toure and Sturridge are already as of today above the target Goalimpact of 120. Can and Markovic are expected to be well above the target level in future. In case of Markovic that is very soon, Can will take another year or so. Given the money spent on the transfer market, better far options would have been available.

Manchester City vs Liverpool FC: Goalimpact of Lineups

Manchester City has the stronger starting XI and the home field advantage on their side. This makes Liverpool have only outsider chances on a win, though a draw is not very unlikely. All in all, Goalimpact is more optimistic on Cities chances than the betting markets

ResultGoalimpact based on starting XIBetfair
Manchester City59.0%50.5%
Draw25.5%25.8%
Liverpool FC15.5%23.7%

Given that City has also the better bench, the odds are probably not overly optimistic for City fans. And b.t.w. it is a sin that Lazar Markovic is on the bench. There must be a place for him in Liverpool's team somewhere.

Manchester City

PlayerGoalimpactPeak GIAgeLast National TeamNo. GamesNo. Minutes
Joe Hart142.9149.727.3England33631329
Yaya Touré128.6146.431.3Elfenbeinküste44337337
Samir Nasri126.8129.927.1Frankreich43431327
Stevan Jovetic104.1106.824.8Montenegro18113121
Fernando136.8139.727.0Brasilien [U20]23019743
Edin Džeko133.1139.128.4Bosnien-Herzegowina34826033
Martín Demichelis113.6146.033.6Argentinien45037639
Gaël Clichy154.1160.729.0Frankreich38132239
Pablo Zabaleta135.3142.429.5Argentinien42335558
David Silva135.3141.428.6Spanien42032612
Vincent Kompany143.6149.628.3Belgien42637224
Average132.2141.128.6
Bench
Kun Agüero145.7146.126.2Argentinien44733182
Jesús Navas134.2140.528.7Spanien43735231
Aleksandar Kolarov107.0113.428.8Serbien26219789
Bacary Sagna131.6151.431.5Frankreich42137582
Fernandinho142.6149.429.3Brasilien26822227
James Milner117.2123.428.6England52037414
Willy Caballero106.2107.632.825623418
Average126.4133.129.4


Liverpool FC

PlayerGoalimpactPeak GIAgeLast National TeamNo. GamesNo. Minutes
Daniel Sturridge120.9123.224.9England21412975
Coutinho103.4114.622.2Brasilien [U20]1278374
Jordan Henderson122.1126.024.2England24819327
Dejan Lovren120.8122.725.1Kroatien20718094
Raheem Sterling101.6129.419.7England986589
Martin Škrtel106.1113.229.7Slowakei32528593
Glen Johnson125.7133.129.9England39334758
Alberto Moreno111.6123.022.1Spanien695745
Simon Mignolet107.0119.026.4Belgien22220651
Joe Allen112.7116.124.4Wales22315958
Steven Gerrard136.8172.734.2England73361512
Average115.3126.625.7
Bench
Brad Jones86.187.832.312011119
Emre Can107.2127.620.6Deutschland [U21]1149313
Mamadou Sakho110.3113.524.5Frankreich21017528
Kolo Touré131.8162.933.3Elfenbeinküste50242363
Rickie Lambert106.3132.932.4England24921177
Lazar Markovic119.2140.420.4Serbien [U21]1157616
Manquillo98.0120.320.3Spanien [U20]231758
Average108.4126.526.3



Spain's Perfect Eleven takes on the Confed Cup

Spain's national team is full with so many excellent football players that it is a pitty only eleven can play at a time. If the staring XI consists of the players with the highest Goalimpact, it would average above 150. Many of the opponents in this tournament don't even have a single player that good.

Player GoalImpact Age Team Games Minutes Position
Victor Valdes 184,6 31,4 FC Barcelona 477 44.369
GK
Iker Casillas 172,8 32,0 Real Madrid 692 64.244
GK
Pepe Reina
152,5 30,8 Liverpool FC 571 53.172
GK
Sergio Ramos 164,5 27,2 Real Madrid 426 37.948
DF
Pique 162,8 26,3 FC Barcelona 279 23.075
DF
Arbeloa 161,6 30,4 Real Madrid 287 24.521
DF
Raul Albiol 138,2 27,7 Real Madrid 301 25.267
DF
Azpilicueta 114,2 23,8 Chelsea FC 219 19.069
DF
Nacho Monreal 112,3 27,3 Arsenal FC 201 17.880
DF
Xavi 175,0 33,4 FC Barcelona 671 54.314
MF
Cesc Fabregas 173,2 26,1 FC Barcelona 432 33.105
MF
Iniesta 170,1 29,1 FC Barcelona 449 31.742
MF
Busquets 170,0 24,9 FC Barcelona 232 18.530
MF
David Silva 139,1 27,4 Manchester City 364 28.325
MF
Mata 133,9 25,1 Chelsea FC 299 22.491
MF
Jesus Navas 129,9 27,5 Sevilla FC 355 29.607
MF
Santi Cazorla 127,8 28,5 Arsenal FC 375 27.528
MF
Jordi Alba 126,6 24,2 FC Barcelona 192 14.371
MF
Javi Martinez 113,3 24,8 Bayern München 281 23.485
MF
Pedro 162,7 25,8 FC Barcelona 200 12.888
FW
David Villa 148,8 31,5 FC Barcelona 450 34.928
FW
Fernando Torres 133,7 29,2 Chelsea FC 506 39.235
FW
Soldado 120,2 28,0 Valencia CF 254 18.099
FW

Spain looks unbeatable in this tournament. Only Brazil may have a chance due to the home advantage.

Die besten Vereine der Welt nach GoalImpact

Der Euro Club Index stellt wöchentlich eine Liste ins Netz mit den besten Clubs nach deren eigenen Verfahren. Ich möchte hier die Liste nach GoalImpact daneben stellen. Grundlage hierfür ist der Durchschnitt der GoalImpacts aller Spieler, die in der aktuellen Saison eingesetzt wurden.


NrTeamGoalImpactMinMaxSpieler
1FC Barcelona161,5105,8187,924
2Real Madrid156,9113,5190,521
3Bayern München144,7103,0180,222
4Manchester United138,592,4173,027
5Shakhtar Donetsk135,299,4151,824
6Chelsea FC133,892,0179,124
7Manchester City131,590,6157,525
8Borussia Dortmund130,794,9142,519
9FC Porto128,991,6156,723
10Zenit St. Petersburg127,591,4144,026
11Paris Saint-Germain125,6100,2162,024
12Arsenal FC124,7107,6146,225
13PSV Eindhoven124,588,6161,625
14Juventus124,295,0156,026
15AFC Ajax123,495,4142,528
16Liverpool FC122,996,9151,427
17Dinamo Kiev122,893,4136,824
18FC Schalke 04122,594,2143,624
19Everton FC122,292,8148,924
20RSC Anderlecht121,082,6137,025
21Fenerbahce120,884,9155,525
22Tottenham Hotspur120,185,7156,828
23Inter120,191,1144,830
24CSKA Moskva119,690,3135,024
25Celtic FC119,593,7137,125
26SL Benfica119,092,5141,324
27Partizan118,881,4139,428
28Galatasaray117,891,2142,725
29Metalist Kharkov117,791,2131,427
30Fulham FC117,579,1146,022


Eine Ähnlichkeit zum Club Index ist nicht zu verkennen, aber es gibt einige deutliche Unterschiede:
  • Manchester United ist nach Club Index noch vor den Bayern. Das halte ich persönlich nicht für die richtige Reihenfolge.
  • Dortmund muss nach GoalImpact noch einige Mannschaften den Vortritt lassen. Der Auftritt in der Todesgruppe der Champigons League war beeindruckend, aber mal sehen wie es weiter geht.
  • PSV Eindhoven schießen selbst für Niederländische Verhältnisse viele Tore. Schon zur Halbzeit der Saison haben sie eine Tordifferenz von +51. Es könnte also dreistellig werden. Der GoalImpact ist entsprechend hoch. Der Club Index reagiert darauf nicht.
  • Athletico Madrid ist beim Club Index auf Platz 7. GoalImpact ist vom aktuellen zweiten Platz in der Primera Division unbeeindruckt und schiebt das aufs Glück und sieht den Verein gleichauf mit dem Tabellen vierten Malaga CF.
  • Olympiakos Piräus ist nach Club Index auf Platz 24 der Welt. Das halte ich für etwas fragwürdig. Nach GoalImpact sind die eher auf Platz 50.
Nachtrag: Ein Unterschied zwischen den Methoden ist die Grundlage. Die Art wie ich die Teams nach GoalImpact zusammengestellt habe benachteiligt Teams, die viel wechseln und experimentieren. AC Milan hatte beispielsweise 31 Spieler im Kader auch tatsächlich eingewechselt. Einige davon vermutlich nur kurz. Diese gehen aber gleichwertig in die Durchschnittsbildung ein. Ich vermute, dass dies auch der Grund ist, warum Real von Barca steht. Barca hat drei Spielern mehr Einsatzzeit gegeben.

Nachtrag: Ich habe die Tabelle durch eine Version ersetzt, in der die Durchschnitte nach Minuten Einsatzzeit zwischen 1. September 2012 und 1. Februar 2013 gewichten sind.

Analyse: FC Liverpool

Um mal einen Blick in andere Ligen zu werfen, hier eine Analyse des Kaders vom FC Liverpool. Neben einigen Top-Spielern sind hier auch viele überraschend niedrige Score-Werte zu finden.


Name Score
Jose Manuel Reina Paez 170,4
Daniel Munthe Agger 161,4
James Lee Duncan Carragher 150,2
Nuri Sahin 141,8
PLATZ 4 BUNDESLIGA 137,4
Jose Enrique Sanchez Diaz 136,0
Luis Alberto Suarez Diaz 135,9
Glen McLeod Cooper Johnson 132,8
Steven George Gerrard 132,0
Sebastian Coates Nion 128,1
Joseph John Cole 126,3
PLATZ 6 BUNDESLIGA 125,8
Martin Kelly 120,8
PLATZ 16 BUNDESLIGA 119,5
PLATZ 3 ZWEITE LIGA 118,7
Joe Allen 117,8
Doni 116,7
Andre Wisdom 115,9
Suso 114,8
Lucas Pezzini Leiva 111,1
Stewart Downing 110,6
Jonjo Shelvey 108,7
Martin Skrtel 106,3
PLATZ 16 ZWEITE LIGA 105,7
Raheem Sterling 105,3
Jordan Henderson 103,0
Ousama Assaidi 99,5
Fabio Borini 98,4
Daniel Wilson 96,9
Bradley Scott Sinclair Jones 90,8

Spielte Liverpool mit dem Kader in der Bundesliga, so würde ich erwarten, dass sie auf Platz 5 laden. In der Premier League läuft es derzeit schlechter und sie sind zur Zeit auf dem 13. Tabellenplatz. Interessanterweise sind die auf transfermarkt.de gelisteten Werte in einem viel geringerem Zusammenhang zum GoalImpact der Spieler als dies bei den bisher untersuchten deutschen Teams der Fall war. Dies liegt zumindestens teilweise daran, dass sich ein Großteil der Spieler in einem engen Korridor um die 15 Millionen Euro bewegen und nicht wirklich nach Spielstärke differenziert werden.

Angesichts des schwachen Starts in die Saison, neige ich dazu hier die Marktwerte für überschätzt zu halten und eher der Statistik zu trauen.

Wünsche nach anderen Mannschaften einfach in den Kommentaren äußern.